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Press Release

Pilots With Diabetes To Set National Speed Record

At 11 a.m. on Saturday 1 September 2012, six pilots with insulin treated diabetes will launch UK Diabetes Formation Flight from Nottingham Airport, aiming to set a new national formation speed record from Derby to Southampton and create history.

The pilots will fly six aircraft in the form of a "D" for almost two hours, passing over six villages and towns whose first letters will sequentially spell the word "DIABETES" from start to finish, and finally landing at Goodwood (Chichester) Airport.

The group of pilots have either lost professional flying careers on diagnosis of diabetes or previously had restrictions applied to flying activities or career ambitions, and are part of a group, Pilots With Diabetes, which was formed in 2007 to promote flying with insulin treated diabetes.

The flight coincides with a recent announcement by the UK Civil Aviation Authority which has introduced new policy on 13 August enabling pilots with insulin treated diabetes to fly commercially and privately.

The UK is now understood to be the second country in the world to enable commercial flying with diabetes and is the only country to enable both commercial flying and full private flying privileges.Pilots need to demonstrate good overall control of diabetes before gaining a Medical qualification to fly.

Commenting on the speed record and new policy, Douglas Cairns, who will lead the formation flight, said "UK Diabetes formation Flight is the first speed record of its kind in the UK and it is very exciting to do this so soon after the new CAA policy announcement for flying with diabetes. There have been positive developments for recreational flying with diabetes already over the last 10 years in the UK. It is now a very positive step for pilots with diabetes, and indeed people with diabetes, to see the introduction of both commercial and full private flying opportunities here in the UK."

The pilots, all National Private Pilot Licence Holders, include UK Diabetes Formation Flight organizer and former RAF pilot instructor Douglas Cairns, holder of 12 aviation speed records including a flight to the North Pole from Alaska in 2011, and co-ordinator of Flying With Diabetes; Damian Fessey, a fellow-founder member of Pilots With Diabetes and private pilot for 10 years; George Duncan, a balloonist world record holder and former British Airways pilot; Karl Beetson, joint aviation national speed record holder of Around Britain's Coastline; Matt Ponsford, a private pilot since 2010, and James D'Arcy, joint holder of a speed record to land in all 48 contiguous states of the USA and winner of London to Sydney air race in 2001.

Photographers are invited to attend the launch at Nottingham Airport and at the landing point at Goodwood Airport. Interviews can be arranged in advance and at the launch at 10:15 a.m. and after completing the flight at 1.15 p.m.

To arrange interviews and for further information, please contact the following:

Douglas Cairns; Tel: 079205 30627,

Damian Fessey (Nottingham Airport launch)

Matt Ponsford (Goodwood Airport landing); Tel: 07990 758782,

Notes to Editor:

For further information on Pilots With Diabetes view

For further information on the UK Civil Aviation Authority's new authority on pilots and air traffic controllers with insulin treated diabetes log on to -

For information on Flying with Diabetes view

For details of Douglas Cairn's flight to the North Pole from Alaska in 2011 visit


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